24th Weekly Media Review of Hungarian Communities Abroad

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24th Weekly Media Review of Hungarian Communities Abroad

Heti nemzetpolitikai összefoglaló (24.hét)

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24th Weekly Media Review of Hungarian Communities Abroad

  1. 1. Weekly Media Reviewof HungarianCommunities Abroad24/2011
  2. 2. Transylvania - ErdélyAct on National MinoritiesDespite the positive change in the Education Law concerning the rights of minorities theadoption of a comprehensive minority act is indispensable. The UN’s Anti-discriminationCommittee has requested repeatedly that Romania passes an extensive minority law, thelast time in 2010. The Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ) hasalready submitted its minority draft law in 2005; nevertheless it is still subject of debatein the parliamentary committee. The draft act on national minorities was first elaboratedby the RMDSZ under the Tăriceanu Government in 2005. It was aborted by the Senateand was also blocked by the Representative House in 2007. The ruling Democrat LiberalParty (PDL) is currently under pressure from the RMDSZ to have the law passed by theend of the month, threatening to leave the coalition if this does not happen. Kelemen saidPDL and RMDSZ had agreed, at the beginning of the year, that the national minorities’law would be adopted before the end of the spring parliamentary season. RMDSZ leadernoted that he would demand the government to take responsibility for the law inParliament if the Chamber of Deputies’ human rights committee does not file a report onthe project within a week. According to the Romanian constitution, the government mayassume responsibility before the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, in joint sitting,upon a bill without having a vote in Parliament. The constitution also stipulates that thegovernment shall be dismissed if a motion of censure, tabled within three days of thedate of presenting the bill, has been passed. If the government has not been dismissed,the bill shall be deemed as adopted. Social Democratic Party (PSD) leader Victor Pontasaid the opposition would surely file a no-confidence vote if the government demandedparliament’s confidence over the national minorities’ status law.Administrative re-organization of RomaniaThe most heated debate within the Romanian legislation is now obviously the proposedact on territorial reorganization. The planned changes are criticized not just by theopposition but by ruling coalition members as well. The final decision on this project wasscheduled to be taken till the 10th June when it could have turned out whether the primeminister would opt for taking responsibility for the draft. The fate of the draft is stillpending. President Traian Băsescu’s proposed re-organization of the national territoryinto a total of eight development regions headed by a prefect and a county council doesnot coincide with either RMDSZ’s request, which advocates 16 regions, or PDL’s idea. Forthe time being the Democrat-Liberals have not mentioned the number of counties thatwill be left after the reorganization, stating that doing so “would get ahead of the processof negotiations”. However their unofficial option is to create eight or maximum twelvelarge regions. The subject was discussed between the president, the prime minister EmilBoc and a few other important heads of the ruling party, during a meeting almost two 2
  3. 3. weeks ago. Băsescu instructed the government to look into the re-organization of thecountry by replacing the 41 current counties with eight large counties or seven counties Transylvania - Erdélyplus the city of Bucharest, arguing that the current system which has been in place since1968 generates inefficiency in the management of EU funds and corruption. Theintention of the ruling party, that is to finalize the draft law as soon as possible, hascaused a bit of discontent within the party. If the law is adopted in the version supportedby Traian Băsescu and PDL, Romania would have eight regions and the current countycouncils and prefectures would disappear. That being said, it is quite easy to understandthe objection of both the PDL MPs and party county organizations who wouldn’t like tolose the existing positions in the counties, filled either by election or by appointment.Although, the bone of contention is the fate of the counties Maros/Mures,Hargita/Harghita and Kovászna/Covasna, by RMDSZ wanting them to merge into a singleregion. Hunor Kelemen RMDSZ president warned that the administrative reorganizationwith eight regions was far-fetched, arguing that a person would have to walk 300-400kilometers to solve a problem. Kelemen indicated that no official discussion has takenplace yet inside the coalition, adding that the Alliance has its own bill on this subject,already submitted to the parliament in 2008, which advances 15-16 developmentregions. According to RMDSZ, the current regional division (Fehér-Maros-Hargita-Kovászna-Brassó-Szeben counties) is very disadvantageous for the three counties inSzeklerland. A Maros-Hargita-Kovászna development region would prove to be muchmore homogenous. Szeklerland may be conceived of a region that is not onlygeographically homogenous but also historically and culturally. It is unfavourable fromdevelopment aspects as well to unite Szekler counties with economically more developedareas inhabited mostly by Romanians into one region, since developed areas have abetter chance to attain financial sources than backward ones. The proposal of PDL and ofthe president is therefore unacceptable for the Alliance. RMDSZ argues that a regionalreform is indispensable, but not by splitting counties with a Hungarian majority. TheSocial-Democrats (PSD) are by far the staunchest opponents of the initiative, claiming itis an attempt to confuse the electorate before the local elections scheduled in 2012.According to an analysis published by a Bucharest-based daily newspaper called Gandul,lowering the number of county councils or regional councils to eight would diminishPSD’s willingness to make room for the National Liberal Party (PNL) candidates, giventhat competition will be much higher. Vice-president of the Conservative Party BogdanDiaconu stated in an announcement that should Maros, Hargita and Kovászna countiesform a single union, a Kosovo would evolve in Transylvania enabling extremists to claimautonomy as a result of their majority within the territory. When asking if the counties ofMaros, Hargita and Kovászna should merge into a single region as RMDSZ demands, PDLavoided giving a straight answer: “We are discussing this with our allies, all in goodtime”. It is evident that PDL wishes to interlock the two crucial bills – the Minority Actand the Administrative Reorganization Act – by asking governmental responsibility forboth and thus rendering a difficult situation for the coalition partner. The presidentinvited the parliamentary parties for a consultation on 21 June in order to adopt acoalition agreement for the reform in question. 3
  4. 4. Critic of the minority language act Slovakia - FelvidékThe Hungarian Government looked forward to the modification process of the Slovak Acton the Use of Minority Languages. The amendment adopted by the Slovak NationalAssembly on 25 May 2011, however, gave cause for disappointment. Although, someaspects show a positive turn, the law henceforward maintains the atmosphere ofintimidation and vagueness. Many provisions of the act are of an optional, not of aprescriptive nature. On the one hand, the law consists of new elements that obviouslyshow a step back compared to the existing practice. On the other hand, it upholdsprovisions, which place users of minority languages at a disadvantage. Inter alia, theHungarian government was informed that in offices, where nationalities on the groundsof their population quota are entitled to use their mother tongue, it is still not anobligation to employ staffs that speaks the language in question. The amendment to theact defines a timeframe for the administration procedure in minority language that isconceived of a serious setback increasing the exposure of minorities. Furthermore, theobligation of subtitling minority language TV programmes on state language is assessednot just as discriminative but as an effort that is aimed at making minority commercialbroadcasting impossible, which causes competitive economic disadvantage forminorities. The Association of Hungarian Television Broadcasters in Slovakia has alsocriticised the act and will have recourse to the European Commission and otherinternational forums. The provision demanding the consent of all local policemen beinginvolved in a case to use minority language is unacceptable, in some cases evenhumiliating. The Hungarian government therefore stresses the absurdity of the amendedact. It would serve the interest of Slovakia, if the state regulated the usage of minoritylanguages in line with fundamental human rights principles and international norms andto the satisfaction of minorities. Hungary’s firm belief is that only such legislation couldsolve the existing problems and restore the balance between the usage of state languageand minority languages that is in line with the relevant conventions of the Council ofEurope and with the recommendations of the OSCE High Commissioner for NationalMinorities and the Venice Commission.SMER-SD outraged by Kövér’s statementsSMER-SD urgently called on the Slovak government to react to the statements made bythe Hungarian parliamentary speaker László Kövér with a demarche, and to quickly drafta strategy for defending Slovakias national interests with respect to Hungary. The housespeaker Kövér gave an interview to the Czech daily Hospodarske Noviny while on a visitto the Czech Republic. According to Kövér, Slovakia has brutally changed the borderswhen building the Gabčíkovo – Nagymaros waterworks, thus giving a legitimate reasonfor Hungary to use military force at that time. SMER-SD vice-chair Marek Maďarič saidthat Kövér showed Hungarys true colours when he revealed that the current Hungarian 4
  5. 5. government was capable of considering a military attack against Slovakia. "Thats Slovakia - Felvidékoutrageous, unbelievable and scandalous," – stressed Maďarič. "Its quite clear thatHungary interprets our silence not as empathy but as weakness," he said, adding thatprime minister Iveta Radičová as well as foreign affairs minister Mikuláš Dzurinda fail toreact to all the arrogant and aggressive steps made by the Hungarian government. TheSlovak foreign affairs ministry rejects the criticism stating that "SMER-SD is not capableof any other international policy than the policy of generating disquiet, which Slovakpeople reject.” In a response to the statements made by László Kövér, the foreignminister said that he had refused to help Hungary in its effort to distract attention fromthe fact that it had okayed several "non-European" laws. "We need to be wise andresponsible. We need to understand what the point is at the moment," said Dzurinda,adding that, to the detriment of Slovakia, Kövér was seeking to deviate attention fromHungarys internal and foreign-policy woes. Dzurinda thinks that Slovakias leadingopposition SMER-SD party may well be doing a favour for Hungary by its urging theSlovak government to issue a demarche in response to Kövérs allegations. Despitelabelling the house speaker’s statement as offensive and inappropriate, Dzurinda saidthat "they dont constitute even a minor threat." However, he added that the Slovakhouse speaker Richard Sulíks response was appropriate. Sulík claimed earlier thatthreatening military intervention or even implying such a thing did not belong to thevocabulary of good neighbours.140 years of SNSThe Slovak National Party (SNS) celebrated its 140 years of existence. Though the partyperceives itself as an ideological heir to the conservative and nationalist historical SlovakNational Party established in 1871 and ceased in 1938, the “Slota-party” founded in 1989is often described as ultra-nationalist, right-wing extremist or far-right, due to itsstatements about Hungarians, Roma, and homosexuals. Slovaks still have to defend thesovereignty of their statehood against the “magyarisation” in the south of Slovakia, eventhough 140 years have passed since SNS was established, said the chairman Jan Slota. "Atthe time when we should be able to live as a state-forming nation, we have to protectourselves from the activities of some political subjects in Slovakia, which have by theirinitiatives ensured adoption of anti-Slovak laws, for example the Act on the Use ofMinority Languages. The aggressive politics of Hungary creates a feeling that the centralEurope is about to face at least a conflict over the territorial-administrative division. Asthe Treaty of Trianon is evidently being doubted by Hungary" – stressed Slota. 5
  6. 6. Transcarpathia - Kárpátalja Vojvodina - VajdaságPM Orbán in VajdaságPrime minister Viktor Orbán was on an official visit to Vajdaság/Vojvodina, where hemet the president of the Alliance of Hungarians in Vajdaság István Pásztor. During thevisit the politicians discussed important issues concerning the Hungarian minority.They welcomed that the former plans are implemented in the province, and the supportcoming from Hungary can contribute to the success of the scholarship programs, thedormitory programs and the school bus program. At the meeting, they touched uponSerbia’s actual domestic politics, the EU accession, and the relationship between Serbiaand Kosovo. The politicians agreed that the prime minister would prioritize the issue ofHungarian educational institutions when meeting the Serbian prime minister in the nearfuture.Youth Council of Hungarians in TranscarpathiaA permanent forum was established on 30 May, in Beregszász/Berehove due to theinitiative of youth organizations in Transcarpathia. The Youth Council of Hungarians inTranscarpathia sets out the ambition in its founding declaration to promote co-operationbetween youth organizations of the region; to preserve the links to the homeland; tostress the importance of mother-tongue education; and to facilitate the prosperity in thebirthplace.Oath takings in the USAbout two dozen people have taken Hungarian citizenship oaths at the consulates ofChicago and Washington, last week. The first citizenship ceremony took place on 13 April USAin the States and it will likely continue in Miami and California. 6

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